'Action needed' over M20 Operation Brock disruption as P&O Ferries Port of Dover fallout continues

Credit: ITV News Meridian

Lorries remain at a standstill on the M20 in Kent as delays to Channel crossings continue.

A 23 mile stretch of the motorway remained closed coastbound between junction 8 and 11 on Friday, April 8, as part of Operation Brock, used to manage freight traffic heading to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel.

The congestion has been caused by the suspension of P&O Ferries after the company sacked almost 800 workers.

Ferry company DFDS has been transporting passengers who were due to travel with P&O Ferries.

However, DFDS said that customers will be unable to transfer their bookings from Friday, April 8, until Sunday, April 10, because of a lack of capacity.

P&O Ferries announced on Friday morning that all passenger services have been suspended this weekend.

Dover's streets have been gridlocked in recent days, leaving many people living in nearby villages stranded.

The traffic management system is designed for lorries to park up on the M20 between Maidstone and Ashford whilst non-freight vehicles can still use the carriageway.

Over recent days the coastbound carriageway has been used just for hauliers to avoid gridlock at the Port of Dover.

Lorries were at a standstill on the M20 in Kent on Thursday, April 7. Credit: ITV News Meridian

That’s meant all other traffic is redirected, causing tailbacks on the A2 and M2 and in villages such as Sellindge in-between Folkestone and Ashford.

One resident said: “It's been hectic all the way through and up where we live.

"It's been just endless rows of traffic coming through, it’s difficult to get out of the village.

"There's more traffic going through the narrow roads, which I think is pretty dangerous because people don't adjust the speed accordingly."

Another told us: “I went to Surrey on Tuesday and it took me it's taken 20 minutes, it'll take 3 hours and you have to skirt around all the little roads to get anywhere because the backlog that comes back, as soon as people realise the motorways are jammed.”

Frustrated at the gridlock, the leader of Dover District Council told ITV News Meridian he’s prepared to declare a major incident.

With the easter holidays approaching, Councillor Trevor Bartlett is concerned the town will grind to a half as was the case last weekend.

"We've really had enough of this. The residents have been gridlock. Why should Dover keep being made the scapegoat? That's what I fear we are."

The disruption comes after P&O Ferries sacked almost 800 workers. Credit: PA

The delays at the port are caused because of reduced ferry capacity as a result of P&O ferries decision to fire almost 800 of its staff and replace them with workers who need to meet safety regulations.

According to the company, cross-channel services will resume next week but the disruption has reopened the debate over whether Operation Brock is a long-term solution to deal with travel disruption.

Councillor Bartlett said: "There's not a quick solution. The solution is long term. We are fighting hard to get the infrastructure on the two roundabouts here.

"The Duke of York and Wakefield Roundabout and the end of the A2 has been talked about for over 30 years and nothing's ever happened.

"We really need to do something with that. We need another lorry park. I think that hopefully would be one solution.

"Manston Airport, I've been told, has been put aside to help with the immigrants that are coming over.

"I can't believe they need that whole area. It's a huge area there at Manston. I really think that needs looking at again and let let's get that open."